LETTER: Journalism is important, nationally and locally

I am a long-time arts supporter on this island and a former board member of Vashon Center for the Arts (I have been on the board twice, most recently just a few months ago.) And I want to express my gratitude and appreciation to The Beachcomber for its recent reporting on VCA.

Much of this is because I believe the press is of critical importance, whether it is reporting on immigration at a national level or about the need for transparency in our local community-based organizations.

I don’t want to get into all of the issues at play involving VCA’s financing, partly because doing so would not be consistent with what I believe boardmembers should do after they leave organizations. But the organization accepted state funding and that brings with it a heightened level of scrutiny regarding VCA’s finances. And The Beachcomber’s first-rate reporting in the paper was well-researched and documented, rigorous and comprehensive, answering questions many of us have.

As someone who truly wants VCA to succeed, I hope the leadership of this organization opens its books to the public, answers questions forthrightly, provides clarity around many disputed areas and is transparent with the community, as was promised in a town hall meeting in February. Board members and organizations make mistakes. But the key forward is to admit them and forthrightly make things better.

I hope VCA can find its way forward. I really do. In the meantime, I applaud Liz Shepherd for her brave reporting and the editor for supporting the story. No one should forget how very hard this is to do in a small town. Our community owes you our gratitude.

— Lauri Hennessey

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